Why Are Black Women Missing From The Blistering ‘Detroit’ Trailer?

The astounding trailer for Kathryn Bigelow’s 1960’s set drama Detroit just dropped.

While there is a cast of familiar faces including, John Boyega, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Jacob Latimore, and Jason Mitchell, the absence of Black women in the trailer is glaringly obvious. The film is based on the blistering summer days of the 1967 Detroit race riots, so the fact that Black women are seemingly absent from the narrative is extremely alarming.

However, though the film uses the riots as its backdrop, Academy Award winner Bigelow is honing in on The Algiers Motel Incident which occurred on July 25, 1967. During this specific incident which transpired exactly one mile from where the riots began, three black males were killed, and nine others, two white females and seven black males, were brutally beaten by members of the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police, and the Michigan Army National Guard. No Black women were involved in this heinous event. Still, that hasn’t stopped the criticism, specifically because the trailer dropped on the heels of the controversy surrounding John Ridley’s 1970s political drama series based on the British Black Panthers, Guerilla.

In Guerilla, there are absolutely no Black female leads (in a film about the Black Panthers). Instead, Indian actress Frieda Pinto was cast. When asked about his casting choices Ridley initially dismissed Black women’s concerns. He’s backpedaled a bit since then, but the damage was done. Therefore, when the trailer for Detroit dropped many people felt like it was deja vu. In Hollywood, Black women are often painted as difficult, abusive, and so forth, consequently it’s extremely concerning when a Black man who has as much clout as Ridley doesn’t choose to defend us; especially in a story about us. And yet, Bigelow’s Detroit isn’t exactly doing the same thing.

Bigelow has always been very careful with her choices which have included her critically acclaimed films The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Since we’ve not seen Detroit in its totality, and we know that it centers around the specific incident that occurred at The Algiers Motel, perhaps it might be worthwhile to hold on to our concerns until we see the completed film. Admittedly, the film’s title could have been better, perhaps it should have been named Algiers instead, because really what is Detroit, especially in the 1960s without Black women?

Detroit will hit theaters August 4, 2017, exactly fifty years since the riots.

Will you see Detroit in theaters or will you be skipping it?